Page France is the pseudonym of Michael Nau, a gentleman hailing from a place called Cumberland, MD in the United States. With a stripped back bag of songs that combine elements of folk music with cute, if not somewhat warped pop sensibilities, Nau delivers his first record, Come, I’m a Lion!
Beginning with the simple, 3 chord based Spine, I must admit the record does not get off to the most exciting start. While there’s nothing wrong with the song, it’s certainly nothing that we haven’t heard a bunch of times over the past few years. Second track, Air Pollution, is good enough to make any listener all but forget about the relatively shaky start to the record. Relying on the cutest of heavily layered vocals and quirky lyrics over a sole acoustic guitar progression, it’s straight out of left field and had me grinning by the end of the song.
Ribs sees the full band arrangement come back, and starts with a pretty cringeworthy verse that is thankfully saved by a strong chorus with a great flowing melody and simple but very effective keyboard part that sounds straight out of Magical Mystery Tour. The accordion backed Bridge seems to follow the trend that has been established by now of a pretty weak verse made listenable by a strong chorus.
But as soon as you think you have the record figured out, Rhythm pops up with a sweet sounding verse accompanied by an unadorned finger picked guitar a genial sounding drum roll as the only rhythmic backing.
Love and Interruption fails to register any interest but Slippery’s tender guitar layering and interesting electronic beat backing makes this listener more attentive and as it unfolds into a rather liberal arrangement of overdubbed guitars and accordion it almost seems like a last ditch attempt to keep listening.
Interest levels drop again as Northern Light commences and things get no better when the almost cringeworthy Ceiling makes you wonder if you’re listening to the OC soundtrack. I was just about to tell Page France to learn how to write a ballad, but then the piano/voice centred We Remain As Two begins and I start to hear myself say, well he’s not that bad. It’s a beautiful, albeit twisted ballad that I’d be proud of writing and will shortlist for mixtapes in the future, I assure you.
The record finishes strongly as well, with a sweet banjo line bringing another much needed element to So Sweetly Around Me. But by now I’m sick of the rollercoaster this record has put me on, so my interest wains again.
So, did I like this record? I really don’t know. It had flashes of charm, beauty, elegance and maturity – but it also had moments that had me reaching straight for that evil Skip Forward button.
The record is worth a listen if you’re into the new wave of troubadours like Bright Eyes and Dashboard Confessional but don’t mind a bit of pop thrown into the mix. I can’t guarantee you’ll enjoy it, but I’m willing to bet you’ll be in two minds about it.
- Dan Condon
Artist: Page france
Album: Come, I'm a Lion
Date Of Release: 2004
Bitrate: VBR --alt-preset standard